Philippine elections: the national is local

Voters in Region 8 exercise their most sacred right to vote for candidates of their choice. (PIA-8 photo by Vino Cuayzon)
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“Philippine elections,” says the British publication The Economist, “are always local and thuggish.” 

The “thuggish”  part every Filipino is, or should be,  familiar with. That’s the “guns and goons” in the “guns, goons, and gold” equation that too often decides the outcome of elections in those places where the police are either too weak to prevent voters from being intimidated, or are themselves among the thugs  in the pay of the local warlord.  These are the hoods responsible for the violence that characterizes most Philippine elections (but which the police always describe as “orderly and peaceful”). At least vote-buying, or the “gold” part that comes in both cash and kind, helps redistribute, rather than death and injury, the wealth that’s been stolen from the people.

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Coming soon, the circus that never left town

Ballot box
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Will Vice President Jejomar Binay still run for President in 2016 despite his falling approval and preference numbers? Who will be his running mate, if ever? Wily tactician that he is, Binay’s thinking of getting Senator Grace Poe, who’s been rising in the surveys as the electorate’s second most preferred candidate for President.

If Poe runs as Binay’s vice-presidential candidate, that will surely assure him victory next year, despite the devastating impact on his popularity of the many allegations of wrongdoing that’s being dredged up in the Senate practically every week, which include his supposedly taking kickbacks in the construction of the Makati City Hall building, his unexplained wealth and possessions, and even his family’s interests in the company that makes the cakes that Makati presents to senior citizens during their birthdays.

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The trapo mind

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After living through three bad weeks, while on the way to a speaking engagement outside Manila it was my misfortune to be in the company of a local politician whose sentiments were firmly with the current national administration.

The normally one hour trip turned into two and a half hours because, over the protests of the vehicle driver, he insisted that we use a route other than that which most travelers to our destination know has cut travel time by half. That gave him a captive audience of three (there was one other passenger, in addition to the driver), and he made free with his opinions on the 2010 elections, the candidacy of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, Philippine politics in general, the inadequacies of the Philippine electorate, and the current state of the media.

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